What is a VPN?
The acronym VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN allows users to connect to the internet safely and securely. Essentially, the ultimate goal of a VPN is to protect your onliine privacy and keep your private information secure and private.
How a VPN Works
The VPN creates a tunnel on the internet between your device (such as your laptop, smartphone or tablet) and a web server somewhere on the internet. The VPN service allows you to browse the web through that virtual tunnel, using that web server’s internet connection.
So, if you are in Uganda and the server is in Los Angeles in California, it will appear as though you are browsing the internet from California. This will allow you to gain access to websites and services that are normally restricted to US residents.
Top 15 Advantages of Using a VPN
1. Protect Your Online Privacy
Without a VPN, everytime you browse the internet, you are vulnerable to hackers, phishing attacks, malware, spyware, ad-trackers, cybercrime, and other dangerous online threats. A VPN can protect your online privacy by masking your IP address, location and search history to prevent your browsing history, habits and online behavior from being tracked.
2. Secure Your Private Information
A VPN helps protect your private information by encrypting your personal data such as your bank accounts, credit card details, private messages and other data.
12. Get Access to Live Sports Coverage
If you’re a sports fan, a VPN allows you to get access to an international mix of sports such as Formula 1, NBA, La Liga, English Premier League, Serie A, Champions League, NFL, Tennis, etc. A VPN helps you bypass international and local blackouts by assigning you an IP address of a region where streaming of your favorite sporting events is not blocked.
3. Safely connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Public Wi-Fi can be found in popular public places like malls, restaurants, coffee shops, public libraries, etc. and it allows you to access the internet for free. These Wi-Fi hotspots are always unsecured connections. Even if it requires a password, you’re still at risk. If you happen to be in the same network bubble as a potential hacker, it will be very easy for them to gain access to your personal information.
- Risks of public Wi-Fi include:
- Malicious hotspots
- Man in the Middle (MitM) attacks
- Snooping and sniffing
- Malware distribution
- Unencrypted networks
4. Get access to geographically restricted affiliate programs.
Some of the highest paying affiliate programs on the web are only available to American residents. A VPN allows you to connect to VPN servers in America and appear as though you are browsing the web from somewhere in America. This will allow you to bypass this censorship and gain access to some of the most lucrative affiliate programs on the web.
5. Stream from anywhere.
Streaming subscription services like Netflix do not broadcast certain shows outside of the U.S. For example, there are nearly 4,000 movie titles available for viewing in the U.S. But if you travel to Europe for vacation, you would have access to roughly 2,500 titles. With the right VPN, you’ll be able to access Netflix when you’re travelling internationally. But not all VPNs work with Netflix. Netflix blocks most VPN services, but a small group of VPNs developed workaround technology for most streaming services including Netflix. These VPN services are listed below.
6. Get access to cheaper long-distance telephone charges.
You can use VoIP for free to circumvent long distance charges. Note however, that the only free calls are video messages and audio calls to other people using the Skype app.
7. Save money whilst shopping online.
When shopping online from countries like England, prices can be drastically more expensive than if you are shopping from countries like India. With a VPN, you can connect to VPN servers in India and get access to the best international rates.
8. Play online games that may be restricted in your country or that is scheduled for a later release date.
A lot of gaming content on the internet is geo-restricted, which means they are only available to specific countries or regions. For example, you can bypass geoblocking and access Fortnite from anywhere, even in a country or region where the game is not available. Furthermore, if a game is released in a country like the US but not yet in Europe, you can set your server location to the US, purchase and play before anyone else can.
9. Escape data-throttling.
Data throttling occurs when your ISP slows down your service after you’ve used a certain amount of your data. With a VPN, you won’t be subject to a data cap.
10. Bypass Internet censorship.
Certain countries like China block access to Google, Facebook, YouTube among a wealth of other sites. If you find yourself in a country that censors the internet, a VPN allows you to access anything on the internet as if you were browsing the web from London city.
11. Avoid malicious DDoS attacks.
According to the Q2 2018 Threat Report, the number of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks increased in size by 500%. Once a cybercriminal has your IP address, they can DDoS it, making your home connection unstable. However, you can mitigate that risk with a VPN. A VPN shields your IP address by routing your data traffic through remote servers. This protects your internet connection from being a target of a DDoS attack.
13. Increase the privacy and security of multiple devices
A single VPN license allows you to enhance the privacy and security of all of your devices by encrypting the connection of your desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc. This setup doesn’t have any
14. Download information from the internet safely and anonymously.
A VPN secures the connection between your computer and the internet by creating an encrypted virtual tunnel through which all of your data traffic is sent. This allows you to download information from the internet safely and anonymously.
15. Avoid bandwidth-throttling.
ISPs can slow down your internet speed at different times when you’re using certain websites. A VPN can prevent bandwidth throttling by encrypting your device’s internet traffic.
Disadvantages of Using VPN Services
1. Using a VPN might be illegal in your country.
2. When you connect to a VPN, your internet speed will be slower.
3. Unless you’re an encryption expert, it will be difficult to find out the encryption quality of your VPN.
Before selecting from the VPN companies listed below, make sure to consider some essential VPN uses, such as:
- Check speed and reliability tests. Some services are faster than others.
- Look for a user-friendly VPN
- Avoid free VPNs as they are likely to sell your data to make money.
- Availability and unblocking capabilities
- Maintenance and support
- Number of simultaneous connections
- Money-back guarantee
After evaluating all of these factors, you can choose the VPN that best suits you.
This guide includes the best VPN services, ranked and reviewed based on their features, pricing, security features, streaming capabilities, and more.
Some ISPs, websites, online services and even governments actively look for and block VPNs. But with the right VPNs, you can get around these blocks without reducing your privacy or security.
Here are 3 of the highest rated VPN services that provide robust security and privacy features for defeating VPN blocks. They also offer some of the cheapest prices you’ll find on the web.
NordVPN is one the most secure and trusted VPN on the market. As of September 2019, it operates on more than 5500 servers spread across more than 60 countries. The most significant number of servers are located in the USA, UK, France, Netherlands, Australia, and Canada.
NordVPN is one of the highest rated VPN services on the web. allowing you to instantly unblock all of your favorite streaming sites no matter which server location you’re connected to. All you have to do is activate Smartplay with a simple on/off switch in the software.
- Military-Grade Encryption
- CyberSec (blocks suspicious websites automatically which enhances protection)
- Military-grade security encryption
- Offers a double VPN feature
- Fully hidden IP Address
- Stringent No Logs Policy
- Bitcoin Payments
- Automatic Kill Switch
- DNS Leak Protection
- Split tunneling
- Onion over VPN
- Unblocks difficult countries like China
- Lightning speed & Live Streaming
- SmartPlay (allows you to access your favorite streaming sites securely)
- P2P (Peer-to-Peer) Sharing
- High-Speed VPN
- Browser proxy extension
- The entire Signup, set up, and installation process is straightforward
- User-friendly interface
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- 24/7 customer support and assistance (Best Customer Service award at 2018 BestVPN.com awards)
- Extremely reliable
- Compatible with all devices and browsers
- Performance is heavily dependent on the time of use
- Servers are clustered in and around Europe, with a lack of diversity in location
- No service guarantees
- No customer support via phone
NordVPN offers three pricing plans as of now, including:
- The first NordVPN plan is a monthly plan, which is priced at $11.73 (£9.20)/ month.
- The second is a 6-month plan, where you pay only $8.83 (£6.93)/ month. You can save £55.21 with this plan, which comes to a total of £41.58, billed every six months.
- The third plan is a 2-year plan, where you pay only $3.42 (£2.68)/ month. Here you can save £220.84, which comes to a total billing of £68.53 for two years.
Get started with NordVPN for just $3.42 (£2.86)/month
Surfshark VPN is a lightweight VPN that allows you to unblock a huge amount of restricted apps and sites. It also works well in China.
- You can effectively hide IP address
- Allows split tunneling
- Industry-leading AES-256-GCM encryption
- Default IKEv2/IPsec secure protocol
- Allows P2P (Torrents)
- Camouflage mode for that additional layer of security
- MultiHop (lets you connect via multiple countries at once)
- NoBorders mode allows you to use the internet in restricted areas
- Private DNS and leak protection
- Built-in kill switch
- Strict no-logs policy
- Leak protection
- Unlimited simultaneous connectivity
- CleanWeb feature ensures freedom from malware and phishing attempts and surf without any ads or trackers
- Whitelist feature allows split-tunneling
- Does not collect ip addresses, browsing history, session information, used bandwidth, network traffic and other similar data.
North America: 62 Mbps
Asia: 19 Mbps
Europe: 40 Mbps
- Unlimited simultaenous connectivity
- DNS and leak protection
- 24/7 expert support
- Very user-friendly interface
- One of the costliest VPN services in the market
- Can be fast but speeds vary widely
- Geographic locations of the servers are not evenly distributed
- Static IPs may be a turn-off for some customers
SurfShark VPN offers three pricing plans.
Surfshark VPN offers three pricing plans as of now, including:
- The first NordVPN plan is a monthly plan, which is priced at $12.90 (£10.12) / month.
- The second is a 6-month plan, where you pay only $6.46 (£5.07) / month. You can save $116.04 (£91.01) with this plan, which comes to a total of £30.43, billed every six months.
- The third plan is a 2-year plan, where you pay only £1.95/ month. Here you can save $539.81 (£439.81), which comes to a total billing of $59.54 (£46.70) for two years.
Get started with Surfshark VPN for just £1.95/month
One of the oldest VPN providers in the world, StrongVPN began operations back in 1994. Today, it is one of the world’s leading providers of VPN services.
Currently, StrongVPN is available in more than 25 cities, with more than 950 servers and 59000 IP addresses. Backed by excellent infrastructure, it is one of the top choices when it comes to choosing a VPN service provider.
They also provide a dedicated IP address to cater to your needs.
- Zero logging of connections and activity
- ‘Best Available Location’ option
- Offers up to 12 simultaneous connections
- No speed limit
- Strong DNS
- Certified no-logs policy
- Strong AES-256 Encryption
- L2TP, SSTP, OpenVPN, IPSec, and IKEv2 protocols
- Security on public Wi-Fi
- WireGuard protocol beta
- Works with Netflix and Hulu
- Works with Skype
- Supports up to 12 devices per license
- Professional and prompt customer service
- 24/7 customer support
- More than 12000 satisfied customers
- Compatible with all devices and browsers
- Excellent infrastructure
- Superior service all across the world
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Slow in most servers
- User-interface is somewhat clunky and not very user-friendly
- Located in US jurisdiction
StrongVPN offers three pricing plans as of now, including:
- The first StrongVPN plan is a monthly plan, which is priced at $9.94 (£7.80)/ month.
- The second is a 12-month plan, where you pay only $5.76 (£4.52)/ month. This comes to a total of $69.15 (£54.25), billed every twelve months.
Common terms you’ll come across when researching VPNs:
A DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attack is a malicious attempt to render a website or online service inoperable by overwhelming the bandwidth of the targeted system. According to the Q2 2018 Threat Report, the number of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks increased in size by 500%.
Encryption is the process of converting your data (such as a text message or email) into unreadable format so that its content cannot be understood even if it intercepted by hackers. When you need to send a confidential mail and you use a program that obscures the content of that email, that is an example of encryption.
IP address stands for internet protocol address. It is an identifying number that is allocated to a device (such as a computer or smartphone) that is connected to the internet. Your IP address is what allows you to send and receive information on the internet.
This is a rogue network that fools users into thinking they are connecting to a legitimate network. Hotels are often the prime target for malicious hotspots. For example say you’re staying at The GoodNight Inn and you want to connect to the hotel’s WI-FI. When you browse the network, you may find GoodNight Inn which you might think is the hotel’s Wi-Fi, but isn’t. If you connect to that network, you’ve just connected to a rogue network that can now browse your sensitive information.
Short for malicious software, malware is a computer program that is designed to infiltrate and cause damage to computers or websites. Malware covers all types of threats to your computer including spyware, viruses, worms, Trojans and so on.
Man-In-The-Middle Attacks (MitM)
This attack is a form of eavesdropping. When you connect to different websites on the internet, vulnerabilities can allow an attacker to get in between these transmissions and read the content of those transmissions.
Snooping and Sniffing
Cybercriminals can buy special kits and devices that allow them to access everything you’re doing online, from viewing pages you have visited to being able to capture your login credentials and even hijack your accounts.
A software vulnerability is a security hole or weakness discovered in an operating system that renders it susceptible to exploitation by hackers.
A VPN protocol is the technology used by the VPN provider to ensure that you get a fast and secure connection between your device and their VPN servers.
VPN split tunnelling
Split tunneling allows a user to access dissimilar security domains like a public network (e.g. the Internet) and a local LAN or WAN at the same time. This alleviates bottlenecks and conserves bandwidth as Internet traffic does not have to pass through the VPN server.
A web server is a computer that runs websites. The main objective of the web server is to store, process and deliver web pages to users using the HTTP protocol.
How Does a VPN Service Work?
When you connect to the Internet with a VPN service, you will be connected to one of the VPN’s service’s servers. Your IP address is hidden and replaced with that of the VPN’s web server. So, instead of using your own allocated IP address, you will be using the server’s address to surf the internet. No one will be able to link you to your real-identity. This means hackers, governments, ISPs and websites will not be able to track you online.